But Council leader says money won't be used to save threatened services

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor David Green Councillor David Green

More than £9 million of reserves has been freed up by Bradford Council after an internal review found it was going spare.

But there will be disappointment for those fighting proposed cuts after the Labour-led authority ruled out spending the money on saving threatened services.

Council leader David Green said reserves “could only be spent once” and using them to stave off cuts for a year or so would merely store up trouble for the years ahead.

Council reserves stand at almost £100m, £82.4m of which had been allocated for specific purposes.

The Council has now reviewed these allocations to see whether any were out-of-date and the money could be spent elsewhere.

As a result, it was revealed yesterday that more than a tenth – £9.037m – could be freed up.

It will be moved to the unallocated reserves, available to spend on anything, which is expected to grow to more than £30m by next month.

The authority is planning to use more than half of this money in its budget over the next two years.

But yesterday Coun Green poured cold water on the idea of using this cash to either save threatened services or freeze council tax. He said the authority faced at least three years of successive cuts to its income and as a result needed to come up with sustainable budgets for the long-term.

Instead, he said reserves would be spent “smoothing the transition” to a lower-spending Council, making sure the cuts took place in an orderly and gradual way.

He said: “For the last two years I have been very clear that what we need to do as a Council and as a city is to look ahead long-term – five years, ten years, 15 years – and where we want this city to be.

“Simply plugging holes with reserves does not give a sustainable future to Council services, nor does it actually support the economic and social development of this city.”

Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, said he had queried some of the allocated reserves in the past as they had “been in the bank for many years”.

He asked why the Labour-led authority had not held the review earlier. He said: “I am not persuaded that the Council’s political leaders know how much money the Council has, or what they are doing.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the allocated reserves should be reviewed each year. She said: “We always keep saying, on and on, that the Council sits on a fortune.”

e-mail: claire.armstrong@telegraphandargus.co.uk

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